Less invasive knee surgery helps 91-year-old Biloxi man compete

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - If you have serious knee problems and don't like the thought of a total knee replacement; there may be a less invasive robotic surgery alternative for you.

The new procedure has made a huge difference in one coast man's life, allowing the senior to continue doing what he loves--running in senior Olympic events.

Watching Donal Snyder run, you would never guess, that he has had knee surgery, and you'd probably be surprised to learn that this amazing 91-year-old has also had a triple bypass and has a pacemaker.

But when his knee started giving out on him, due to osteoarthritis a few years ago, he wasn't ready to give up his active lifestyle.

"They told me about MAKO plasty, and they showed me how it works; and I told them I wanted to be good enough to run again. And I've been running on it about three years now with no problems. There were plenty of problems before the knee surgery. It got so bad I couldn't walk without limping. It hurt if I stepped up or stepped down," he said.

But the surgery changed all that. Orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Joel Tucker says MAKO plasty uses a robotic arm and is ideal for patients who only need a portion of the knee replaced.

"The MAKO plasty allows us to replace one or two of the knee compartments without having to replace all of them. In other words, why would you replace all of the knee when you can replace a portion of it. And allow much of the natural knee to remain," Dr. Tucker said.

The innovative procedure is available at Biloxi Regional Medical Center. Dr Tucker says the robotic arm allows for more precision in resurfacing the knee and replacing the areas that have worn out. The procedure uses the latest technology; starting by using a CT scan to create a computer model of the knee.

"The implant is modeled on the ct scan in order to fit the knee for your specific adjustments. In addition to preserving part of the natural knee, it's a shorter recovery period. It's a smaller incision, quicker recovery and patients are able to get back to their day to day life," Dr. Tucker said.

Snyder says he was running again one month after his surgery, and competing in the senior Olympics again shortly after that. Not only in numerous running events, but also in the javelin, discus and shot put.

"It kept me able to compete," Snyder said.

And he's not slowing down. In his next competition he plans to add the high jump and long jump to his list of Olympic events.

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